Blending indie rock and country sounds wasn’t really new when Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown did it, so it’s definitely not unprecedented in 2016. Doing it in a way that’s captures the best of both worlds, however, is still a relatively rare occurrence. But Dallas-based Parallel Play manage to find that blend on “Bottleneck,” a track that combines indie-drone with some campfire singalong banjo in pursuit of a new way to sing about heartache.
The song tackles a specific part of a broken heart—namely, the process of signing divorce papers, songwriter Jeremy Drake explains. “We’re told getting married, having kids, buying a house is the kind of stuff that makes a perfect life,” he says. “When the marriage falls apart this depression from a lack of progress comes over you. Nothing you do lifts that until those damn papers are signed. This is the bottleneck. To move on, this is your one and only way out.”
That’s a glum reality to acknowledge, but it’s something that has always been a part of the genres that Parallel Play works in on “Bottleneck,” and finding a way to make that something you don’t mind singing along to is what makes it great. The four-piece does it here with big, John Bonham-style drums, harmonies that never quite seem to match up, and a banjo line that brightens up the dark spots. The result is a lot more fun to listen to than the narrative is to live through—which is, after all, the heart of most great songs with a banjo on ’em.